I’ve always been an advocate of music benefiting the soul, but over the past few months I have seen evidence of this on every project I’ve worked on.
Over the Past three months we have been piloting a project working in a hospital school in Leicestershire, working with young people who are in residential care. The aim was to create a CD with songs on which could be used in therapy sessions and classes to relax the young people.
Ward Three is part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and provides care for young people with mental health problems aged 12 – 18 years. The patients come from Leicester City, Leicestershire and beyond. Most young people are attending as voluntary patients. Young people are admitted to Ward Three either in a state of crisis, or when their circumstances and presentation becomes complex and an assessment is needed.
I’ve seen young people, smiling, increased communication and have heard reports of young people responding better after making music.
Here are some case studies from Ward Three
1. Peter. This young man attended two sessions. At the time of the first session it was difficult to know how much he understood of what was happening around him. He did, however, manage to join one of the education staff on the conga and tap out a rhythm. By the second session his presentation had improved. He was able to particpate in a more active way. This was a useful tool to assess his progress. We were able to feed this back to the clinical team who are always looking for evidence of recovery.
2. Laura engaged in three sessions. This experience gave her opportunities to interact with others (she often works on her own school work in class, and has a tendency to isolate herself on the Ward), and practice her social skills with supportive peers and staff to give her feedback. The Soft Touch staff have seen an improvement in the interaction with others, as well as her singing skills. She is immensely proud of the songs she has written, and has continued to do this on the Ward and on home leave, beyond the life of the group.
“They are really friendly people, Peri and Steve, they got me inspired to write songs and I never thought I’d ever do that!”
We have many other examples of young people looking forward to the sessions on Fridays. Many of these young people are struggling with suicidal ideation and for them this is the first future-orientated thinking they have done in a while. They also agreed it is helpful to engage with sensitive professionals who know little about them and their histories. The nature of our young people is such that they struggle to recognise the good in themselves at all. During the Soft Touch sessions, however, they contribute to what is undeniably a good and finished project. This makes a difference.
Ward Three’s Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Abhay Rathore:
Dear Rosie, I am writing to support your bid for the continuation of the work done by the Soft Touch colleagues for the patients on Ward Three.
I have noticed that there is a sense of excitement about the Friday when these sessions are on and young people have been enjoying themselves thoroughly. The participation is excellent and the feedback is very positive as well.
I am very pleased with the efforts of the colleagues and that we are able to offer this alternative to young people. This has helped us in providing a much more holistic approach to care for some of the most unwell young people in the county.